Why We Need To Stop Romanticizing Suffering As The Only Pathway To Success

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I recently joined the world of adulting, where bills became practical rather than just a theory you hear people complaining about. It was time to look for a job and work for my own money. I can tell you for a fact, the narrative out there is terrifying. Everywhere you go, people will tell you that you have to suffer before you finally attain happiness. They will welcome you to the ‘real world’ (of suffering) as though it’s something to be proud of. They will tell you how they did unpaid work for years, and how that is the only way to succeed in life. I guess you can’t really blame them because that’s the reality they had to go through to get to where they are, and now it seems like gospel truth.

There’s a joke that usually goes around about the way African parents describe how they got to school in their childhood. They will tell you how they walked miles, climbed hills, walked barefoot in the rain, and yet, despite all of this, they still made it to the top of the class. I understand part of it might be true. But why make it seem like struggle and success are synonymous? If they said that they were privileged enough to be driven to school every morning, and they still succeeded, would their success be any less than that of those who struggled?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling anyone’s journey. It’s okay to have struggled and worked through your struggle to become successful. It’s actually quite inspiring. But what’s not okay is to make it seem like everyone has to go through this journey of struggle in order to get to where they want to be. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t believe in putting in the effort. But what I’m saying is, you don’t have to struggle to be successful. You just have to work hard. Diligence is not a synonym of struggle.

When you speak of big dreams in the near future, some people will ridicule you. You will hear things like:

I had to work for forty years before I could afford my first house, what makes you think you can do that in two years?

It’s impossible to move out at age 23. If you do, you will suffer out there and end up going back home.

You have to start somewhere. You cannot become a millionaire in ten years, it’s impossible.

It doesn’t matter what your dreams in life are. I am sure that when you say some of them out loud, people laugh and mock you. It all stems from the same thing. We don’t believe that it is possible to have it easy in life, and that’s the sad reality. It’s so deeply ingrained in our thoughts, our perceptions, and our beliefs. We see suffering as a pathway to success, even if it doesn’t have to be that way.

As someone who believes in the law of attraction and in the power of the tongue, I find it hard to accept notions such as these. Because when you believe it, you attract it. If you go out into the world knowing that you must suffer in order to succeed, trust me, you will get just that. The power is in knowing that you deserve great things, with or without struggle being a part of the equation.

You might think this is all just a theory. You may be asking, who even thinks that way? So let me just solidify it all. Here’s something I’m quoting from the internet:

“When kids are born rich, they are at a huge disadvantage.  Starting off with nothing gave me a hunger that’s almost impossible to have when you are born well-fed.”

It got me thinking, what about our kids? Are we not working hard to give them a better life? Should we feel guilty about this, and make them suffer so that they can succeed? It doesn’t sit right with me. Even though they come from a point of privilege, rich children can also work hard and be successful in the long run.

In fact, I have a close friend who works extremely hard. She’s always thinking about the next project to embark on. She has started businesses and they have succeeded. While she comes from a financially comfortable home and probably has access to resources, she still works hard. Extremely hard. Yet, recently when we were discussing this topic, she told me about how someone had mentioned to her that she would never be successful because she hasn’t suffered enough. Why do we automatically assume this?

There is nothing wrong with attributing your success to the tenacity you built before you had it all. There is, however, everything wrong, with making it seem like success can only be achieved through suffering.

Quotes go around every day about how there is beauty in the struggle or how success is born from struggle. People go around saying that where there is no struggle there is no strength. We absorb these perceptions and manifest them into our reality, without even knowing it.

In my opinion, you can have it all. You do not have to suffer, you just have to work hard and appreciate your hard work. We need to stop equating effort to suffering. The suffering is over, it’s time for joy.

“You cannot struggle to joy. Struggle and joy are not on the same channel. You joy your way to joy. You laugh your way to success. It is through your joy that good things come.” ~Esther Hicks

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